Headroom?


Nikki Thedog
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Joined: 12/29/07
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Nikki Thedog
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Joined: 12/29/07
Posts: 86
05/06/2016 12:25 am
Does someone have a non-over-the-top-technical definition of headroom? I see it A LOT when reading articles etc., on amps but not really sure what the heck it is. Takers??? Dale
# 1
maggior
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maggior
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05/06/2016 2:04 am
Headroom means having good dynamic range. You can play a 10 or 20 watt amp and it will sound loud. But as you really dig in, you find it just loud...you can't get past that loudness. Headroom means you can be as loud as you need to be and still have some reserved power for those fleeting moments where it is REALLY loud.

Think of music with a very wide dynamic range...a symphony orchestra. There can be some VERY soft parts and some VERY loud parts. An amplification system that can replicate this well would have to have a lot of headroom to be able to play the softer parts at a pleasing and satisfactory level and still have the reserve power to deliver the very loud parts without clipping and creating lots of distortion.
# 2
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
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ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,348
05/06/2016 2:10 am
Originally Posted by: 69devilleDoes someone have a non-over-the-top-technical definition of headroom? I see it A LOT when reading articles etc., on amps but not really sure what the heck it is. Takers??? Dale

In the most basic possible terms:

Turn your amp on 10, turn your guitar on 10. You now have ZERO headroom. You have no more "room" to turn your equipment up any louder.

Turn your amp on 5. You now have headroom from 6-10 on your amp.

Turn your guitar on 8. You now have headroom from 9-10 on your guitar.

In more technical terms it can relate to how much a piece of audio gear can be turned up within safety limits, or before damage or distortion sets in.

Typically having headroom available is good for clean signals like a stereo for reproducing music, or a PA for vocals or cleanly & precisely re-amplifying a signal or miked amps or instruments. This means that you have plenty of power in the system. You don't need to turn it up all the way in order to get the volume you need. You don't have to strain the system. And there's a little left in the tank if you do need to turn it up a bit.

Conversely, often electric guitarists do not want or need as much headroom in their amps, because they desire the sound of the amp cranked to 10 or close to it. :) However, it's always a good idea to know you have a little headroom available in your guitar. So, you can turn it up to 10 on the solo or loudest part of the song. But turn it down to 5 to 9 while the singer is singing or for the quieter parts of the song.

The wiki entry might be helpful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headroom_(audio_signal_processing)

Hope that helps!
Christopher Schlegel
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# 3
bob99
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bob99
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05/08/2016 1:02 pm
"headroom" is also frequently discussed as the amount volume available without getting distortion - "clean headroom"

You can think of "clean headroom" in the exact same way as your home stereo.
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Nikki Thedog
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Nikki Thedog
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05/09/2016 9:12 pm
Thanks, think I have a pretty good grasp on it now...
# 5

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